Thursday, August 26, 2010

Catching Up!

I know I have been falling down in on my posting but life has been a big blur as our time in Ecuador winds down. Having made the decision that we really want to make Cuenca our home we have been trying to find someplace to live when we return as we will return with our dog, Iggy.

We connected with Bill McDonald the director of Unsion, a Christian TV station in Cuenca. We toured the studio and had lunch with Bill and part of his staff. What a blessing! They have a wonderful ministry in Ecuador which also includes a counseling service. Bill invited us to church on Sunday the 22nd. We visited a wonderful fellowship and as Bill was the guest speaker at both services we spent the morning with them. What a blessing and so much love . I was asked to share my testimony and Bill translated.

Two fellows from Georgia were here in Cuenca helping at the station to install new software and other equipment. We all went to church and then out to a fabulous lunch. The platters on the table are full of various cuts of beef, pork, sausage, and chicken.

Monday was house hunting day again. We did not find anything but that night back at the hotel we celebrated Jim and Carolyn's move out of Casa Ordonez into their new condo with a dinner of double cheeseburger! What a group!

Alberto told us he had a lead on a house for us so we had an appointment with Luis to see it on Tuesday. We were reminded by some new friends in North Carolina that God is always on time.

Tuesday morning Alberto took us to see the house. What a great house! It is 5 bedrooms ,2 1/2 baths, a huge living room, huge dining room, huge kitchen, and yes Iggy will have a yard!

Papers were signed and the house will be painted and cleaned while we head for Oregon to pack! Had a little time on my hands to went and got my hair cut for $4

It was our turn to celebrate so off to a special dinner with the gang from Casa Ordonez at Tiestos. What a dinner there were platters of swordfish and seafood and beef tenderloin. What a great last night in Cuenca!!!!

Wednesday was travel to Guayaquil. Since we had flown to Cuenca at the beginning of our trip we decided to hire a van to take us to Guayaquil. After a round of hugs and Ecuadorian style kisses we loaded into the van. What a trip! The road is about three lanes wide with no lines and goes through Cajas National Park which is part of the Andes and amazing. These picture can not capture the size of this place!!! Drivers in Ecuador are something else, they pass on blind curves and don't know the meaning of yield.

The trip took about 3.5 hours and we arrived at Guayaquil in time for a wonderful lunch at the Unipark Hotel followed by a walk in the Central Park across the street to visit the Iguanas. Yes, in the middle of the largest city in Ecuador (over 2 million people) there are iguanas wandering in the park. There are turtles too!

Today we flew to Miami, this is Guayaquil from the air.

We will spend two nights in Miami as I was not paying attention to the itinerary when I selected it and thus the two nights here before heading to Portland via Dallas on Saturday.

I have so many thoughts about all this it is hard to put into words. Cuenca, Ecuador is a wonderful place, with a great climate, beautiful people, healthy food, and a pace of life that we need and want. There is a wonderful opportunity for ministry and we are so excited.

What is funny being back in the States is being able to flush toilet paper, speaking English to taxi drivers, watching TV in English (it has not gotten any better while we were gone), not walking to the little tienda for crackers and cheese, and missing new friends. We are anxious to see old friends and family Sunday and not looking forward to Hasta Luego when we get it all together and return to Cuenca, hopefully in November.

We will keep the post up with the adventure of getting it all together with paperwork for visas and all the rest....stay tuned the adventure continues!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tour of Cuenca Thursday Aug 19th

Today we headed to Parque Caldaron to catch the double decker bus for a two hour tour of the city of Cuenca. It was a beautiful sunny day. The new cathedral as I have mentioned is on the square. The two towers you see in the picture were supposed to be topped by blue domes but there was a problem with the design and the foundation would not hold the weight so the towers remain unfinished. Three beautiful domes are the most recognizable features of Cuenca.

The tour wound through the streets and districts. We passed the Bano Central, note the armed guards. All banks here have armed guards as do many stores, specially high-end jewelry stores. The ruins I mentioned the other day are behind the Bano Central so we got to see a different view of them as we drove by.

The area of the city that housed the blacksmiths is noted for the iron work on the roofs. Having a cross and some iron work is still popular on many of the homes. There are still working smiths in Cuenca. We met a gal who had all the hardware for here chest of drawers made by a local smith.

I guess the iron work does not show the best in this picture so you will have to believe me.

During the bus ride there were several occasions we all had to duck way down due to low overhanging wires or dodge tree branches as we drove besides the river.

The same architect who designed the new cathedral also designed this school. The school was open to boys only until 15 years ago when girls were allowed to attend. It is a beautiful building and you can see the similarity of design.

School is out still for vacation but back to school is in the air as many of the shops have mannequins with the different school uniforms displayed.

Out tour headed up the hill to a lookout call Turi. Of course there is a church up there and a fantastic view of all of Cuenca.

Back down the hill, past the mall .

It was fun being on the second floor level on the bus. You could see the many balconies up close, see the flowers growing on the tile roofs, and just enjoy the sun and the ride.

The great day was ended with another fabulous Italian dinner, sorry no pictures . . . Thanks for reading! I am tired of fighting with this blog editor so this is as good as it will get today!


Recovery Day

A trip to the Banos was what the doctor ordered for recovery from the food poisoning. We headed out in a taxi with Frankie and Ursula to take the waters. It was a beautiful and relaxing day. Banos is outside of there are several resorts with thermal pools. We went to Piedra De Agua.

As you can see it is a lovely place with thermal pools, sauna, mud bath, aroma caves and a "health food restaurant." The cost to use all the facilities including a towel was $15 each for the whole day. We lounged in the mineral bath.

Tried the volcanic mud treatment, yes you sit in the brown mud pool for 15 minutes and slather yourself with mud (Ursula is modeling) then dry off before rinsing. We will be bringing some of the mud back with us trapped in our suits! We did remember the SPF 70 sunscreen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Beautiful Day in Cuenca

The sun came out again today (Tuesday)! What a beautiful day. We went for our first day of looking at places to possibly live. The view from the first house was grand and the house too. Unfortunately when we got back our host said it was not a desirable neighborhood.

As I lost all my pictures from the day before I headed out on my own to return to the ruins. My guess it is at least a mile or two away. The walk was great and I passed the river Tomebamba along the way. The ruins are well maintained and I wondered around the upper temple area as well as the aviary and sample gardens.

The llamas are used to mow the grass on the steep hillside of the park. The sun was hot and I was tired so I took a cab back to the hotel.

I have tons more pictures but I hope these give you an idea of the size if this place.

We planned to go to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. The business card we had said they opened at 6. When we got there the sign said 6:30. At 6:45 I asked a number of employees what time and they said maybe another 30 minutes! As we were trying to be home for a Skype call to the Tuesday night bible study we ducked into a little restaurant. It was suppose to be Greek . . . Jack and a spaghetti with cheese and bacon and I had some kind of steak. looked good but 2.5 hours later I had a good case of food poisoning!

It was a long night! Running a little late with the postings due to recover time . . more later. Be assured I am fine now!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday August 15, 2010: a lazy Sunday morning, we had thought to go out to breakfast somewhere but ended up eating here as Casa Ordonez, our home away from Grants Pass. Visited with other guests and then back up to our room of an early nap. At noon we tuned into Parkway and enjoyed the service. As most things are closed on Sunday we took a cab to the Mall Del Rio. Yes girls, there are malls in Ecuador full of all kinds if stores. I can now honestly say, a mall, is a mall, is a mall. It was in someways surreal, there was a huge food court on the second floor with a big screen TV broadcasting a soccer game. There was a Burger King and KFC along with Chinese, Italian, and Ecuadorian favorites. We broke down and had Burger King . . almost like home but there was a slightly different flavor to the meat. They tell us all beef is grass fed here. Anyway, at the other end of the Mall is the Corral a "Hipermercado", think Wal-mart. I wondered the mall and Jack people watched. We did a little price shopping and stoves are relatively cheap but other appliances are spendy. Another interesting thing was unlike eating Ecuadorian food we were hungry after two hours!

We took a cab back to Parque Caldaron and sat and watched people. Heard music a block away so I went to investigate. A band was playing in the flower market next to a church. I think a funeral was soon to happen. Had an early dinner at Raymipampa. We like this place, it is right on the square of Parqe Caldaron and very popular with tourists and locals. I had potato soup and Jack had a great chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce.

By now you have noticed there are no pictures. That part of the story is yet to come.

Monday, today, we walked to breakfast. Had a simple breakfast of juice, eggs, rolls, and cheese, tea and coffee. The sun came out so I dashed back to the hotel for Jacks hat. Off we went heading south with a goal of the English bookstore, Carolina's in mind. We must have walked a mile if you can believe it! Jack is doing so well. Anyway, turned in the three books we had brought with us and finished and got two new ones to read. Next door is a fun little cafe, Bananas, had to check it out as it had been recommended to us. Shared a plate of pancakes. Excellent. From there went to the Banco Central and the Museo Pumapungo. Adjacent to the museum are excavated ruins of the second capital of the Tahuantinsuyo empire which predated the Inca and formed the foundation of the Kanari people, one of the most important ethnic groups in Ecuador.

We were tired, hailed a cab for the return trip. In the rush to get in and out of the cab I guess I failed to put my camera back in one of my many pockets and so there are no pictures of Sunday or Monday . .. . . . as there are hundreds of cabs and many cab companies, someone in Cuenca has a wonderful new camera . . .

Jack took a nap and I went hunting for a new camera. There are lots of stores but I was hoping to find the same one . . no luck. Bought a new camera. The camera is now attached to a lanyard arond my neck and then in my pocket to hopefully there will be pictures! In addition to the camera issue, the borrowed phone stopped working so the simple fix was get a new sim card ($8) and it worked fine. Even came with $3 of minutes.

Dinner was another adventure. Had the name of a good Colombian restaurant so off we went. Not sure we found it, at least the name was different but had a wonderful dinner of the house soup (potato with carrots), steak with an egg on it, rice, fried plantain, and fruit juice probably pineapple and something else. It was good and very filling and for the two of us we spent $5. The taxi each way at $1.50, so a cheap date for Jack!

Getting ready to tuck in for the night. Tomorrow is planned for looking at apartments in the morning and we will see what happens from there! We are retired so who needs plans!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Market

Last night Jack felt better so we took Alberto's advice and went to a lovely Italian Restaurant in the Hostel Posada de Angel. I keep forgetting to get the web addresses for the places we visit, but you can find it if you want. We had a WONDERFUL dinner, as usual we were the first to arrive, being Gringos who like to eat by 7 pm but the small placed filled by the time we left at 8:30. Yes, we seem to have learned to lingered over a freshly prepared dinner and bottle of wine. Sorry no pictures to wet your appetite, you will just have to trust me it was the best lasagna and ravioli we have ever had and there will be the opportunity for a picture later as we will no doubt return.

Today was market day. I was told that Saturday was a big market so off by my self I went to check out the meat and produce available. I went to the 10 de Augusto market which is about 7-8 blocks from our hotel. I walk past the new cathedral and the flower market I have shared earlier. The streets are busy on Saturday with families out shopping as school starts soon and it is market day.

The market is in a two story building. The ground floor on one side are vendors with fruits of all kinds. I do not know how one chooses which vendor to buy from! I was a little shy about taking pictures of folks so I took a picture from the second and it is a little dark.
The meat is on another side. Whole chickens, beef legs, hunks of beef from who know what part of the beef. I am sure we will go again as Jack has to see this place.

I was also told that today was fresh fish day. The right side of the picture is some of the fish vendors.

The second floor also has vendor who sell mostly vegetables and grains. There are also many who sell prepared foods, like a big food court. Not brave enough to try any of the prepared foods!

Walked back toward the hotel and stopped at an outdoor market to do a little souvenir shopping and just take in the sights. It was sprinkling but hardly enough to put my hood up.

Got back to hotel and shared my adventures with Jack. As the sprinkles had stopped and he was feeling better we headed out for lunch at a place I had spotted called Cuatro Rios. It turned out to be a 4 star place with wonderful food and service. Two hours later we headed back home and got here just in time as the first real rain since we arrived began. The center courtyard of our hotel and most all the places in Cuenca have a glass roof over them but that water still runs toward the courtyard and is caught in rain gutters!

As I have said, one thing that has impressed us is the friendliness of the people on the street. As we were leaving the restaurant an older gentleman stopped and wanted to chat, asked where we were from and wished us good luck . . all in Spanish of course. Pray all of you back home are well. Thanks for staying up with our adventure through this blog. Hasta Luego!